One of the most unordinary bands, Swedish avant-garde Diablo Swing Orchestra release their fourth album ‘Pacifisticuffs’ after five years of silence, line-up changes and other difficulties.
However, “five years of silence” is not exactly correct. In 2014 Annlouice Lögdlund with her beautiful opera vocals leaves the band. Kristin Evegård joined the band, so Diablo Swing Orchestra continued to perform and also recorded a new single “Jigsaw Hustle” (‘Pacifisticuffs’ will include the reworked version). Also, this album is the first studio work for the drummer Johan Norbäck, who joined the band in 2012, after ‘Pandora’s Piñata’ release.
It can’t be said that music changed drastically: Diablo Swing Orchestra still genius in their mix of absolutely various genres, courageous with arranging and despite the label “avant-garde” make absolutely hits. But, of course, the line-up change affected the music. First of all it’s about vocals: now instead coldish, academic operatic vocals from Annlouice Lögdlund it’s a devilish tempting Kristin Evegård’s vocals. She plays with her voice brilliantly, passing a whole gamut of emotions at once – from tragedy to tenderness, from sorrow to passion. And it’s quite hard to come off this voice playing.
‘Pacifisticuffs’ contains 13 tracks (with interlude “Cul-de-Sac Semantics” and outro “Porch of Perception”) which are absolutely crazy mix of genres and styles. However, this is only at first glance, because every song here is catchy in some way, so it can be hardly said something about the craziness. Rather it’s a thin and painstaking work from undoubtedly talented musicians.
An album opens with “Knucklehugs (Arm Yourself with Love)” – some kind of gospel with jazz cabaret, which was introduced to fans on October, 3. It’s energetic, with some sudden music patterns, but nevertheless it does not give an idea of the album absolutely. This is eloquently spoken by many comments in social networks, where people write something like “It’s still Swing Orchestra, but surely not Diablo”, judging by one song. But it’s totally ok: musicians are growing and experimenting, unlike some fans that want “all the same, but new”. And it is possible that some old fans will turn their backs on the band, but I’m sure other people will come to take their place, just starting to get acquainted with the Diablo Swing Orchestra.
Well, further there are marches full of pathos (“Superhero Jagganath”), disco (“Jigsaw Hustle”, which is different from 2014 version), great groovy rock’n’roll (“Karma Bonfire”), bluesy “Interruption”, a romance and even tango. With all that it needs in tango: broken rhythm, tension, struggle and passion in every note. And, yes, it’s in 2017!
At the same time, it’s quite hard to describe such music, or refer it to some genres: here Latin American brass can enter just after sadly exalted violin, and typical heavy guitar riff can be fit in disco rhythm quite organically. So it’s better to hear it once.
As for me, this album is some kind of time machine, that makes a 45 minutes journey for the main directions of 20th century music: 20’s jazz, 50’s rock’n’roll, 70’s disco. It makes this journey not boring, but giving a lots of emotions. Maybe, this album cannot be understood from the first listening, but when you are drawn in, it’s very, very difficult to break away from it.
‘Pacifisticuffs’ will be released on December, 8 via Candlelight/Spinefarm.